Dr Melissa Wong Yuet Fun

Assistant Lecturer & Coordinator for Diploma of Higher Education Studies
School of Arts and Social Sciences

+603 5516 1541
Room 2-6-05

Dr Melissa Wong is Assistant Lecturer at Monash University Malaysia where she is also the Coordinator of the Diploma in Higher Education Studies Program. She earned a Bachelors in Communication with first class honours from Monash University Malaysia. She also holds a Masters in Education (TESOL) from Monash University Australia and a Doctor in Education (Higher Education) from the University of Liverpool. She spent her first few years post-Masters developing a teaching career in academic skills development, communication studies, journalism and literature and drama.

Her doctoral research project features practitioner-research that is reflective and reflexive research in the area of one’s work practices. She has since then moved on to research in higher education policy and development, regional and international higher education in Southeast Asia and beyond. She uses mainly ethnographical research methods including visual ethnography, which she complements with other qualitative research methods.

As an early career researcher, Melissa is currently researching in the areas of urban development and its impact on higher education in Malaysia. She is currently working on a project that investigates the impacts of political and economic decisions on higher education in the states of Johor, Wilayah Perseketuan, Selangor and Sarawak.

She is also working on the possibility of building transnational higher educational links between Malaysia and South Korea. She is also a member of the Malaysian Scholars on Korea (MASK) network hosted by the Malaysian think-tank Institute of International Studies.

She is also working a longitudinal project tracking the movement of higher education students into Malaysia although her work is currently limited to broad trends in the area.

Translational research is important to her i.e. how the knowledge that she has gained in her research can be used to better the practices and experiences of NGOs and other communities in KL and beyond. An NGO in Selangor has utilised her skills in impact assessment in the running of their own social programs focusing on education for the poor and marginalised in KL.

She is currently serving a fixed term as Chair of the Monash University Malaysia’s Early Career Researchers Committee between 2018 -2019.


EdD, (Higher Education, University of Liverpool UK)
MEd (Education (TESOL), Monash University, Australia)
BComm. (Hons.),(Media Studies and Writing, Monash University, Malaysia)

Professional Affiliations:

  • Society for Research Into Higher Education, Member
    Malaysian Scholars on Korea, Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS Malaysia), Network Member

Research Interests

Dr Melissa Wong’s research currently focuses on the intersection of political economies and physical spaces and how they affect international higher education offerings in Malaysia. She has conducted fieldwork in international branch campuses across Malaysia using visual ethnography and interviews. She is working on the factors that attracted and is attracting local and international students to study at international branch campuses (IBCs and is examining how location (e.g. urban vs rural) impact the economies in the township the university is located in, and whether where a university is located impacts types of students that choose to study there.

She has a concurrent project on the factors that make Malaysia an attractive higher education destination to Muslim students particularly in the current global context of populism and anti-immigration in the West. Her project centres on claims that Muslim students from Asian countries are attracted to Malaysian higher education because of the country’s reputation as a moderate Muslim country.

Dr Wong is currently also working on a project that examines the key similarities and differences in the internationalisation efforts made by Malaysian and Korean governments, higher education ministries and institutions of higher education. She is looking at what (if any) are the barriers for student mobility and transnational higher education between the two countries. The project also investigates what strategic measures each country can make to strengthen partnerships between their higher education institutions and encourage student mobility and transnational education.

Research Projects

Title: International Branch Campuses in Malaysia and Student Recruitment and Participation in Higher Education: Do campus locations matter?

Educity Iskandar Malaysia located in Nusajaya was planned as a pioneering multi-varsity education hub that features universities, schools, research and development centres, student accommodation and sports and recreational facilities. The aim is to be Asia’s leading regional education hub. Melissa is investigating the role of education in the context of what I term to be ultra urban development.

Title: Strengthening Malaysia-South Korea cooperation through higher education partnerships, policies, and transnational student mobility

Dr Wong is working on the possibility of building transnational higher educational links between Malaysia and South Korea. She is also a member of the Malaysian Scholars on Korea (MASK) network hosted by the Malaysian think-tank Institute of International Studies.

Title: The impact of “culturally comfortable” Malaysia as a higher education destination for Muslim and other minority students in a time of rising populism

In 2014, a UNESCO report on Higher Education in Asia: Expanding Out, Expanding Up focusing on graduate education referred to cultural comfort as a factor for its increasing international enrolment. This expansion is happening while Western countries such as the US and UK debate their immigration policies with the discussion veering heavily towards anti-immigration. This study attempts to understand this new phenomenon within the context of Malaysia, a participant in the global race to expand its higher education sector. It tries to examine further reasons why Malaysia is
attractive for Muslim students worldwide, and how it can potentially challenge Center countries’ dominance in higher education. From the UK perspective, the study can inform its policymakers on the cultural conditions that can be cultivated to make it a nation that is also conducive for its international Muslim students.
Funding sought


Dr Melissa Wong currently focuses on academic literacies development and the teaching of research and academic writing skills to first year students. She also co-teaches with Callum Gilmour research method in the social sciences.

Her teaching approach is based on the inculcating of strong academic skills and literacies. She is passionate about teaching students to formulate and define their thoughts based on strong, reliable, and trustworthy information derived from academic sources. She teaches students to question the information gathered through the general world wide web especially in the age of fake news.

She is currently experimenting with blended learning and online instruction to improve student learning.

Journal Articles

Wong, M. 2018. “We don’t need to write to learn computer sciences”: writing instruction and the question of first‐year, later or not‐at‐all, Journal of Pedagogic Development, 8 (3).

Lee, J. C., Huat, W. C., Wong, M., & Guan, Y. S. (2010). Elections, Repertoires of Contention and Habitus in Four Civil Society Engagements in Malaysia's 2008 General Elections. Social Movement Studies, 9(3), 293-309.

Book Chapter

Wong, M. (2009). On Malaysia Boleh. In J. C.H. Lee (Ed.), Malaysian Way of Life. Malaysia: Marshall Cavendish.

Wong, M., 2018-2019: International Branch Campuses in Malaysia: Do campus locations matter?, School of Arts and Social Sciences Seed Grant, Monash University Malaysia, RM 7,000.

Areas of Research & Supervision

Dr Wong is able to supervise projects in the areas of academic literacies development, international higher education, transnational education, higher education policy development, and higher education and political economy.

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